Friday, December 28, 2012

Killer BOB — Just the Guy I’m Never Looking For

I’m spending this second-to-last workday of 2012 at home, doing my job but also making the most of the fact that the series run of Twin Peak is now available on Hulu. It’s not because I’m obsessed, stupid. Obsessed people are crazy, and I’m Drew. Hi. Not crazy.

If you asked most fans when BOB, the horrifying sex demon big bad of Twin Peaks, first makes his appearance, they’d probably say in the second episode, when Mrs. Palmer has the vision of him crouching behind Laura’s bed all evilly and sex demon-like. He actually appears before, and I’d never realized until I re-watched the pilot today. The episode ends with Mrs. Palmer having a different vision — of someone in the forest uncovering the buried half of Laura’s locket — and immediately after, she sits upright and screams. (Not unusual: Laura’s mom often sits upright and then screams.) But in the mirror to the right of Mrs. Palmer’s head, you can see BOB lurking.


My eyes bugged out just a bit when I noticed this — not Grace Zabriskie-level eye-bugging, because that takes years of training, but in the ballpark.

I wanted to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, so I double checked online: Yes, in is in fact Frank Silva, the man who played BOB, though his appearance was accidental. From Wikipedia:
When Lynch shot the scene of Sarah Palmer’s frightening vision at the end of the pilot, Silvas reflection was accidentally caught in the footage. When Sarah Palmer sees her vision of a hand uncovering Lauras heart necklace from the ground, Silva can be seen in the mirror behind her head. Lynch was made aware of this accident, but decided to keep Silva in the scene.
Wikipedia does not cite the source of this information. However, accidental or not, this being BOB’s first appearance on the show makes for a fitting bookend well within the spirit of Twin Peaks, for so many reasons but most of all because the last time we see him is also in a mirror.

And it’s also a nice metaphor for BOB’s presence in the Palmer household: always there, always watching, even if Mrs. Palmer refuses to notice. Hell, he’s even appearing in a frame of sorts, in the same shot at the framed photo of Laura, with Mrs. Palmer situated in the middle.

This, to a superfan like me, is a minor mindhole-blower along the lines of realizing that Nibbler’s shadow appears in the Futurama pilot, long before Nibble was a character on the show, long before the overarching plot provided a reason for Nibbler to meddle with time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to think about what the interstitial shots of changing traffic lights could symbolize.

Twin Peaks, previously:


  1. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Apparently David Silva was working on the production when his reflection was accidentally captured in that scene. Lynch thought it was creepy, kept it in and gave Silva the role of BOB

    1. Yes, that's essentially what the Wikipedia excerpt says.

  2. Killer Bob did appear in the mirror as an accident. Lynch described this event at a talk at University of California, Berkeley, called "Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain". He recalled it when an audience member asked him to comment generally on the topic of "coincidence". The casting of Killer Bob occurred on set as a coincidence, also. All described by Lynch around minute 25 here:

  3. Anonymous10:40 AM

    Lynch describes the entire thing in the Mark Cousins book, "Scene By Scene" (2002).
    MC: Was it true that Bob wasn't in the original idea for Twin Peaks?
    DL: Right, this is one of the things that can happen and it's a beautiful thing when it does. I was on the set in Laura Palmer's house. We were on the second floor and were going to shoot a panning shot in Laura's room to start with. Frank Silva was the set decorator and he was arranging some furniture. At a certain point, he moved a chest of drawers in front of the door and someone behind me said, "Don't block yourself in there Frank." And... my mind pictured Frank blocked in the room. And then I rushed up to him and said, "Frank, are you an actor?" And he said, "Why, I happen to be an actor" and I said, "You are going to be in this." So we did a couple of pans without Frank and then I had him kneel behind the bed an freeze. It panned around and there he was, hard to kind of see right away, but if you held for a while you suddenly just see him. I didn't have a clue what I was going to do with that and then later we were shooting the last setup in the house. It was pretty late at night and it was the scene in which Mrs. Palmer was smoking a cigarette, distraught on the couch, and playing some scenes in her mind. And she sees something mentally and lurches up. The (camera) operator has to crank very fast to catch it; nailed it, perfect. I said, "Beautiful" and the operator said, "No, it's not good." And I said, "What's wrong?" And he says "Someone was reflected in the mirror" and I said "Who was reflected in the mirror?" And he said, "Frank was." Then I knew I was onto something.